Sunday 22 October 2017

Mayo chief happy with Gaelic Grounds return for Cork back-door clash

Mayo boss Stephen Rochford. Photo: Sportsfile
Mayo boss Stephen Rochford. Photo: Sportsfile

Declan Rooney

Mayo have no issue with their All-Ireland qualifier clash with Cork taking place at the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick.

Three years on from their All-Ireland Ireland semi-final replay defeat to Kerry at the venues, Mayo footballers will return to Limerick for the first time when they meet the Rebels in Round 4A of the qualifiers.

The GAA's decision to move an All-Ireland semi-final out of Croke Park due to an American football college game being held at the Dublin venue annoyed then Mayo manager James Horan, who had called for the game to be postponed until Croke Park was available.

In front of 36,256 spectators the Gaelic Grounds clash turned out to be Horan's last game in charge of Mayo and he stepped down after the three-point extra-time defeat to the eventual All-Ireland winners.

However, the current Mayo management team led by Stephen Rochford has no such problem with facing the Munster runners-up at the venue, and county board chairman Mike Connelly welcomed their return to the Limerick venue.

The natural midway point between Cork and Castlebar is Ennis, where Mayo defeated Clare last weekend, but Connolly said it was an expected destination.

Rumours

"We expected it to be in either Ennis or Limerick. Round 4 is a neutral venue and we had heard rumours that we'd be brought to Cork for the game and we wouldn't be happy with that one," said Connelly.

"It was different in 2014, that was an All-Ireland semi-final. This is the back-door and we were in Ennis last weekend. And we know where it is now. We'll take Limerick, we're happy with that."

Last season both Mayo and Cork played their fourth round qualifiers at Croke Park, and in the last four years at least two of the four Round 4 games have taken place in GAA headquarters.

The 2014 game in the Gaelic Grounds was notable for the incursion of a Mayo fan on the pitch during the game, who tried to remonstrate with referee Cormac Reilly.

Meanwhile, the Mayo camp have reported a clean bill of health after their Round 3A qualifier win over Clare last weekend, while they have been boosted by a return to training for midfielder Barry Moran and forward Conor O'Shea.

Moran has yet to feature this summer for Rochford's side due to a longstanding Achilles injury, but he has returned to full training in recent days.

After starting Mayo's opening Connacht championship game of the season against Sligo, O'Shea has sat out the Galway, Derry and Clare games due to a shoulder injury, but he too is in the running for a return to action against Cork in two weekends time.

 

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